Marseille – Learn about the southern gate of France

France is one of the most famous countries in the world. Tourists flock to this European nation every year to visit its famous buildings and cities. Many people go to Paris to see Eiffel Tower and walk through the halls of the Louvre. However, France has many other gems. Head south to enjoy the beauty of Marseille, the southern gate of France.

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Marseille is located in the south of France. The city touches the Mediterranean Sea. The city’s location made it one of the most famous ports and trading spots in Europe.

Look in the history book 

Greeks put the first brick 

The city’s history dates back to 600 BC when the Greek founded it. Soon, Greeks from the city of Phocaea started populating the area.

Greek coin found in Marseille
Greek coin found in Marseille

Under the Roman umbrella

In 49 BC, Marseille became a Roman city. Marseille played an important role in the economy of the Roman Empire as it was one of the most vital ports of the area.

The city flourished for many centuries under the Roman’s Empire.

 

Hits and comebacks

Life wasn’t always happy for Marseille. In the 14th century, the city was hit by a plague. As a result, many people died. However, the city started to 

prosper again in the 16th century under a ruler named René of Anjou.

René of Anjou
René of Anjou

In the 18th century, the city faced another plague it was called The Great Plague of Marseille. This outbreak killed a lot of Marseille’s residents and hurt its economy.

The city stood tall and came back again by mid-century.

the Great plague of Marseillethe Great plague of Marseille
the Great plague of Marseille

French revolution and “La Marseillaise”

By the 18th century, the French revolution began. It lasted for around 10 years. Marseille played a pivotal role in the revolution. In 1792, volunteers from Marseille marched to Paris and performed a song called “Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin”, (“War Song of the Army of the Rhine”). This event became very popular with the French to the extent that the song became the national anthem of France. The song was renamed “La Marseillaise” to honor the volunteers. 

Today, “La Marseillaise” is still the national French anthem.

Listen to the song below.

Paiting of the volunteers singing La Marseillaise
Paiting of the volunteers singing La Marseillaise

Modern age

During WWII, The city was damaged by the German occupation. After the war, Marseille was reconstructed and retained its position as France’s southern gate. 

 

Tour in the city:

1. The Vieux Port (old port)

The Old Port is located in the west of Marseille. It’s fair to say that it witnessed the birthplace of the city. Throughout history, the city was special due to this spot. Ships from all over the world anchored at that place. Now, tourists enjoy taking ferries from the port to enjoy the glamour of the Mediterranean Sea. Many people also enjoy walking through the fish market near the port and rewarding their taste buds at the famous sea foods restaurants there.

the southern gate of France
Vieux port - Marseille

2. Château d’If

If you decide to take a ferry from the old port, you should definitely visit this spectacular fortress that was built by King François I in the 16th century.

The fortress overlooks astonishing scenery as it’s surrounded by the sparking water of the Mediterranean Sea.

The famous fortress appeared in a famous novel. It’s ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas.

Château d'if
Château d'if

3. Le Jardin des Vestiges  

Le Jardin des Vestiges is located near the old port. This amazing garden has traces of the city’s history. The site includes remains that date back to the times of the Greeks and Romans. Walking through the paths of the garden and watching the ancient remnants of walls and warehouses is like turning the pages of a history book.

Le Jardin des Vestiges
Le Jardin des Vestiges

Take a bite

 

When it comes to food, bouillabaisse is, without a doubt, the signature dish of the city. It’s a famous fish soup that was made by Marseille fishermen. These people used bony rock fish that they couldn’t sell to restaurants and markets to make this meal. The popular dish consists of many types of fish and vegetables and it’s often served with sauce called Rouille.

Marseille traditional Bouillabaisse
Marseille traditional Bouillabaisse

Fun fact about the city 

Marseille is the sunniest city in France with over 2,900 hours of sunshine a year.  

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